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>Mel Disselkoen's method of increase has been my mainstay for increase.> I did not know OTS technique until a few weeks ago . Mr Oldtimer told me I could get good quality queens with this technique. I have much information about the technique that I took from the net. Will be used by me this year to produce some of my queens.

>Roland's Production method has meant I can produce honey.> Adrian I do not know this method. Can you give more details about it . Thank U.

Although much of the times I look for simple and pragmatic responses, the fact that this question has not been answered in a linear and quickly way was good, IMO. It was Randy Oliver who said in a radio interview that there are no simple answers in beekeeping. The bees are likely the society of more complex insects on earth. How could there be simple answers to solve problems in complex contexts? It has also been said that the beekeeper today must also have a scientist facet. The complex times we live, with lots of external variables (many of them to play against us) that influence the end result that require us to go to the field with a greater degree of uncertainty than desired. It seems to me that today's beekeepers need to be more tolerant and less susceptible to uncertainty levels. Although he do everything so that everything works out in the end.
 

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i've had too few hives for too few years to make any definitive or quantitative observations.

generally speaking though i don't much difference in the performance of queens regardless of whether they were started on the emergency principle, swarming, supercedure, or grafted. i've seen mostly good queens and an occasional dud with queens having been started under all of these scenarios. i tend to agree with michael's sentiments that timing in the season and having the right conditions in and out of the hive are the more important considerations. i have felt that differences in queens had mostly to do with how well the mating went.

with regard to walk away emergency queens in particular, i am leaving very robust donor colonies queenless during prime mating season, and so far i have not been disappointed with the queens they have produced. i haven't even bothered to inspect for cells a week after making them queenless, although i am tempted to try notching this year and cull down to the best two cells as adrian describes.
 

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Eduardo, I did write up Roland's method somewhere once I will see if I can find it later. I'll PM you the link when I do, if I feel ambitious I might write up the whole integrated scheme.
 

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I would back it up and point out that no one has (at least as far as I'm aware) actually done a side by side comparison between well provisioned (the way an experienced beekeeper would do things if they were looking for success) emergency queen and a "by the book" graft.
Your comment got me curious, so I dug a little bit and found that this study actually did that:
EFFECTS OF THE AGE OF GRAFTED LARVAE
AND THE EFFECTS OF SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING
ON SOME MORPHOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
OF IRANIAN QUEEN HONEY BEES
(Apis mellifera meda Skorikov, 1929)
A l i M a h b o b i , M o h a m m a d b a g h e r F a r s h i n e h - A d l ,
J e r z y W o y k e , S a e e d A b b a s i
Journal of Apicultural Science, Vol 56, No. 1, 2012, Pg. 93-98.
http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jas.2012.56.issue-1/v10289-012-0010-1/v10289-012-0010-1.xml

Granted it was of Apis meliffera meda, or the Iranian bee. Which may decrease it's value to you. It was also probably not done under the conditions you would like. But the study did conclude, among other things, that:

Emergency queens are of lower quality
than queens reared from larvae 1 day old,
however they are of higher quality than
queens reared from 3 day old larvae.
That was on pg. 96, Conclusion #3.

But I'll let you read the study, if you like, to draw your own conclusions.
 

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I don't see any description of what was given to the bees to produce an "emergency queen". One would hope it was a frame with brood and eggs of all ages. They are very specific about the grafted larvae, but only an assumption that they are over a day old.

So I have a pretty good picture of what the grafting setup is, but I have no idea what went into the emergency queens, or under what conditions they are raised.
 

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So I have a pretty good picture of what the grafting setup is, but I have no idea what went into the emergency queens, or under what conditions they are raised.
The article is fairly short, with only a half a page describing materials and methods. I would agree there isn't much information on what went into the emergency queens. I can only speculate that they assumed everyone know it to mean "yank the queen and see what happens." But I don't know that for certain.

The lack of a description opens the article up to speculation and scrutiny, but I don't think their lack of a description of "emergency queen" invalidates the entirety of the results though. My opinion though. At worse it reduces it's conclusions to a starting point discussion.

I can say that I have seen a study that compares grafted larvae with "emergency queens" that concludes that "emergency queens" are of lower quality than those reared from 1 or 2 day old larvae. I can not say that I have seen a study that compared grafted larvae with "emergency queens" and puts the results of quality as "comparable", as many here appear to indicate.
 

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It seems that if you really want to see beeks fight, just ask this question: Step 1. Ask Question. Step 2. Sit back and watch. :lpf: :popcorn:
Wowser, no kidding. Seems every time this subject comes up, we end up with pages and pages of stuff, it's more than enough to scare off anybody trying to raise a few on a small scale. Raising queens must be left to the high priests of beekeeping is the eventual impression. It's certainly the impression I got a few years ago, reading threads that went down this same path. So I'll comment on the relavent points a bit, just from my own experience and thoughts.

a) Selection of larvae, seems to be a big stumbling block for many. There are two general ways this happens. In the walk-away style of splitting, it's left up to the bees, plain and simple. In just about every other form of queen rearing, beekeeper makes the selection, so, all the pages of stuff about 'do they choose the right ones', become irrelavent. Beekeeper made the choice by presenting only the chosen larvae for the bees to work with. It really becomes a non issue. Queenless bees that have no other eggs or larvae to work with, will make cells using the larvae chosen by the beekeeper.

b) Building a starter hive. It can appear intimidating, and if you watch some of the videos, in particular those well done videos from Michael Palmer, there is a method, and it requires significant resources to build his style of starter. But put things in perspective, he's putting 48 grafts into a single hive, and expecting all of them to take, so he needs a LOT of bees and resources (pollen / honey) to get 48 grafts fed full of royal jelly. That's fine, if you have 48 nucs waiting to take the cells, most of us dont. So, on a smaller scale, do the math. If it takes 500 young house bees to feed one cell properly, then he needs 24,000 young house bees working on feeding that frame with 48 grafts, and he needs all the food in place for them to make that much jelly. BUT, if one is only doing a small handful, say half a dozen queens required, then to get the same level of royal jelly into 6 cups, only requires 3000 house bees. Suddenly, it's not daunting anymore, just about any reasonable strength hive can put 3000 house bees to work on a small handful of cells. I grafted a full bar, because I have no delusions I'm as good at it as Mr Palmer, and I'm thrilled with a 50% take rate on my bar of cells. The scale is completely different, and with only 6 or 8 cells to be fed, suddenly the starter is not such a big deal anymore. I cant emphasize enough, it's all about scale, ie how many cells are you producing at one time ? The OP mentions 6 colonies, so, 48 cells are absolutely NOT needed, half a dozen is plenty. Properly feeding 48 cells at a time, requires a carefully contrived colony with extra feed resources. Properly feeding 6 cells at a time, that' something every colony in the bee yard can do, and most will attempt it during the swarm season.

c) After the cells are ready, they have to go somewhere, and it's a subject that seems to get lost in the trivial details of selecting larvae and choosing methods of making cells. It doesn't matter how well you built the starter, and how perfectly you selected the larvae, if you have a full batch of 48 cells, and only 6 nucs to put them in for mating, then you've gone to a lot of wasted effort. There isn't much point to making a large batch of perfect cells if you only want / need a few, and even less reason if you only have resources to handle a few. Make as many as you need, a few extra 'just in case', but keep in mind, smaller numbers will give better fed cells, so dont overdo it. On my first attempt, I grafted 15 cups, and got 8 cells. I ended up putting 2 cells into each nuc because I only had 4 nucs to work with at that time. I can make a strong argument for 'I overdid it', but it was an experiment and I really did not know what to expect. Experiment was a success, because I learned a lot in the process, which was the main objective. When I graft my first round this upcoming spring, I'll have equipment lined up for 10 mating nucs. I'll still only graft one bar, and if I end up with 8 or 10 cells in nucs, I'll be happy. The wonderful thing about doing it this way, if my first bar of grafts doesn't have enough that took the next day, I can try again, graft another bar, and put it into the second slot on the graft frame to try get a few more. If I had hundreds of cells on the go in multiple starters, that'll surely mess up my schedule, but I dont. I can deal with one bar being a day out of sync from the other bar, not a big deal.

d) Timing. If you have a dedicated yard with 128 mating nucs, all of similar strength, then timing to place the cells may not be so important, but, the OP doesn't have that. Half a dozen colonies, needing / wanting a few fresh new queens. That pretty much tells us the mating nucs will be in the same yard as the full size colonies. Time your cells so you are placing them into the nucs while there is a flow happening, it accomplishes two of the main important points. First off, cells will be better fed initially, then after placing in the nucs, the large colonies will be busy working the flow. Place them during a dearth, and those larger colonies will find the nucs and start hollering 'free food' to all the rest of the colony. The smallish nucs dont stand a chance if the bigger colonies get a wiff of easy to steal food. I learned this lesson in the school of knocks.

A few years ago, when I first started with the bees, I'd read threads like this one, and eventually my eyes would go crossed over all the insignificant details folks were going on about, and mistaking for significant. Then I started watching the videos from the National Honey show, where Mr Palmer laid out his methods, with clear explanations as to WHY he does what he does. It took some pondering, and eventually I was able to figure out, it's all about scale. When I take those same concepts, but scale them down to my numbers, suddenly it all made sense, and, it's not hard.
 

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We have documentation that beekeepers have been doing walk away splits since at least 1568 (Nicol Jacobi of Sprottau Germany in his book Gründlicher und nützlicher Unterricht von der Wartung der Bienen republished in 1660 as Die rechte Bienen-Kunst in the 2nd book, 2nd part, 7th chapter he describes this). And it was still being practiced in 1774 (Adam Gottlob Schirach's Wald Bienensucht) and had been practiced in Italy since ancient times according to a "Mr. Monticelli" quoted in Huber (Vol II, Chapter X). We know successful beekeepers, Mraz being a vocal proponent, have used walk away splits successfully now for at least (that we have records for) since 450 years. If they were such an abject failure I think the practice would have been given up centuries ago. I do them every year. I try to time them so they do well and they almost always do well. When I was inexperienced and foolish enough to do them in a dearth they almost always did poorly.
 

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Grozzie2; Post #111 seems like an interesting invitation to the school of queen rearing on a small scale! No promise of a superbee queen and no hype that one is necessary for average use.

I have no doubt that a system that covers to perfection every facet of queen rearing will give the lowest odds of substandard queens. That said, unless we have perfection at all other levels, I wonder if it is worth the effort to then seek perfection in one area where bees are doing an adequate job. Approaching perfection puts you deep into diminishing returns in most practical endeavors.
 

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And the understanding of the bee evolves Mr. Bush. Your practices should as well.

Many of the dates that you put down, historically, man kind had a very basic and rudimentiary understanding of the honey bee and colony. Between 1568 and 2015, many discoveries that aid in the understanding of a honey bee colony have been made, such as understanding that queens are female, matings occur outside the hive, how the bees communicate, and the biology of the bee itself. Heck, they didn't even understand bee space or have moveable frame hives. If they had a better understanding of the biology of the queen, her pheromones or how/where/when she mates, or the importance of genetics, maybe they would have made different choices.

Just because they did it doesn't mean you need to.

In 1568 it was common to cut off a finger if you got a bad enough splinter. That worked well for them. Want to continue to do that as well? Medicine evolves. Science evolves. Beekeeping evolves. Evolve with it.
 

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But if you do achieve it it is a wonderful thing...well worth the effort��

Grozzie2; Post #111 seems like an interesting invitation to the school of queen rearing on a small scale! No promise of a superbee queen and no hype that one is necessary for average use.

I have no doubt that a system that covers to perfection every facet of queen rearing will give the lowest odds of substandard queens. That said, unless we have perfection at all other levels, I wonder if it is worth the effort to then seek perfection in one area where bees are doing an adequate job. Approaching perfection puts you deep into diminishing returns in most practical endeavors.
 

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But if you do achieve it it is a wonderful thing...well worth the effort��
Nope; Just quibbling here, but whatever you do will not give perfection every time. You will only slightly reduce the already small number of less than subjectively perfect specimens.

"Perfection is the enemy of a good solution"
 

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So I posted to this thread with our experiences of more or less ad-hoc queen rearing last summer. This year, we got a little more methodical, and planned in each step in advance. I decided to try a cloak board this time around, and Saturday was going to be graft day, so we set up the cell builder with the cloak board on Wednesday, it started as a typical double deep colony.

First step, make sure the queen is in the bottom box, and make sure a frame of open but well developed larvae in the top box, but no frames with eggs on them. This would ensure after I put the slide in, the top half would end up hopelessly queenless. I also pre-set some other frames in the top box. Near the center I placed 2 stores frames with plenty of pollen and nectar on them, with an empty undrawn new frame between them to act as a gap filler in the middle. I turned the bottom around, and closed up the entrance to the smallest hole in the reducer, didn't close it completely because a drone escape was necessary. Put the cloak board down, with the slide out, and the top box down above the cloak. Left it that way on Wednesday.

On Friday afternoon, I took a frame that was almost wall to wall of recently hatched larvae from another colony, put it in the gap where I had the empty frame initially, between the two stores frames and buttoned things up for the day. The goal with this step, bring lots of nurse bees up to work on feeding all that larvae. Saturday morning first thing the slide went into the cloak board to make the top half queenless, and at the same time that frame of open larvae came out, shook all the bees back down into the gap, then put the frame back in the hive it came from. The goal at this step, leave all the nurse bees producing jelly in the gap, but, no larvae left for them to feed. Around 1pm I grafted one bar of cups, then put that into the hole in the tob box of the builder, which was now packed with bees.

Opened it up early Sunday afternoon, and took this picture just before I pulled the slide out of the cloak board.



15 grafts, 13 of them took. I did struggle with the grafting initially, and it's likely not a co-incidence, the first two I put in cups, are the two that didn't take. After about a dozen false starts on various larvae, I finally got the hang of it again, and got a nice larvae into the rest of the cups, but I struggled on the first two. Looking carefully at the photo, some of the cups are almost overflowing with jelly.

Queenless start, with a queenright finisher, all on one stand, and I'm pretty happy with the way this batch of cells look. Last year only half my bar took, so I was expecting a similar result this time around. The next challenge, find enough bees to make a dozen mating nucs. I was planning for 6, and now I have more than a dozen. I can think of worse problems to have.
 

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I'm really interested in a very simple way of raising queens and most of all natural way with the least interference on the human side.

How about letting the bees do the job and eventually helping them a bit by crowding and feeding?

I don't keep bad queens at all and also I'm not very sure which queen is the best so I would rather leave this to fate.

Everybody agrees the best time of the year to raise queens is the time when the bees do that so why not just use this advantage? Let the bees do the job for us. All I need to do is to regularly check for QC's and when the moment come just use those cells.

The work of checking is a must anyway; the only extra work is the cutting of the QC's.

P.S. I used grafting during the previous year so the reason to find a simpler method is not that I cannot graft.
 
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